It is difficult to put a dollar value on your car accident claim. There are many factors that influence the value of your claim, so settlement negotiations often focus on the value of your car accident case.
Understanding the Auto Accident Settlement Formula
Odessa car accident lawyers at the Hanna Law Firm use the following formula to calculate settlements for auto accidents:
Special damages x (multiple reflecting common damages) + lost wages = settlement amount
What are Special Damages?
Special damages refer to losses that are caused by the defendant’s actions and can be assigned a dollar value. These losses can easily add up to a dollar amount. These are the most common general damages:
- Loss of wages
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
After calculating your special damages, the adjuster will add a number depending on the severity and extent of the accident. This multiplier is used to determine the extent of general damages.
What are General Damages?
General damages are losses that are directly related to the wrongdoing of the defendant but cannot be assigned a monetary value. This includes:
- Loss of enjoyment activities
- Stress and depression are examples of emotional damages
- A loss of consortium that is based upon damaged relationships.
They are calculated slightly different because there is evidence like receipts or bills that can help assign a value to general damages.
As we mentioned, adjusters add a multiplier on the total of all special damage. This multiplier, also known as the multiplier method, is used to represent general damages in the auto-accident settlement formula.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method assigns a value to your accident injuries and special damages on a scale from 1 to 5. The multiplier is calculated based on the severity of your injuries and accident.
Let’s suppose you were in an accident that caused minor damage to your vehicle. However, your medical records only indicated soft tissue damage like a strain or sprain. In such cases, an adjuster might assign a multiplier of 1.5 to 2.
Let’s suppose you were in an accident that caused severe property damage and that you suffered broken bones or brain damage. In such cases, an adjuster might assign a multiplier of 4, or 5.
Once the adjuster has the new number (the total general and special damages), he or she will add any lost wages the victim might have suffered.
An injured party may not work for two weeks because of pain. In this instance, the insurance company at fault would pay two weeks’ salary.
This number indicates the value that the insurance company considers the claim to be worth.
This formula will establish a range within which an adjuster can negotiate your claim.
Most car accident claims settle before they go to trial. However, sometimes the parties can’t agree on the amount of a claim. Car accident victims might need to go to court to determine the value of a claim.
Although your car accident lawyer will give you an estimate of the value of your claim, it does not guarantee that it will be worth what you are asking for. An attorney can use many methods to estimate the value of your claim. These include estimates for non-economic and economic losses related to your car accident injuries.
While it is easier to quantify economic losses such as lost wages and medical expenses, it can be difficult to quantify future medical expenses or non-economic costs like pain and suffering. Sometimes, your lawyer will need to consult specialists and experts in order to value certain aspects of your claim.
You cannot be sure that you will get the amount you deserve, even if your lawyer has carefully reviewed your car accident claim. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you advocate for yourself and fight for maximum compensation for your injuries. This guide will give you a general overview of the many factors that could affect the value of your car crash claim.
The Value of your Car Accident Claim Depends on the Insurance Policy Limits
The value of a car accident case is heavily influenced by the auto insurance carrier. New Jersey, for example, is a state that requires drivers to have at least $15,000 of personal injury protection (PIP). Your PIP policy is the first insurance claim you make after a car accident. You will file a claim against the at-fault driver if you don’t have mandatory PIP coverage.
PIP policy limits for severe traffic accidents often exceed them, especially if drivers have only minimum PIP coverage. After you exhaust your PIP policy limits, you can file a claim for bodily injury liability (BIL), coverage by the other driver. Some drivers don’t have bodily injury coverage. BIL coverage may not be sufficient to cover all your injuries in an accident.
Your lawyer may decide that your claim is worth one million dollars. However, if the driver has only $500,000 in their insurance, this could limit your ability to receive compensation. Serious car accidents can result in expensive medical treatment, lost earnings, and other losses. These amounts could also exceed or exhaust BIL coverage limits.